Traditional Christmas Pudding with a Healthy Makeover

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Traditional Christmas Pudding: With the holidays around the corner, many people have anxiety that the food at their Christmas dinner will suit their dietary needs. One Christmas classic is pudding, traditionally made with flour and lots of sugar. The recipe below swaps out all the nasties in favor of more wholesome ingredients. The custard is dairy-free, and the recipe can be made alcohol-free as well!


You can make up the fruit mix to a month before, but it can also be soaked for 24-hours if you’re making a last-minute pudding! The pudding should be made relatively fresh, either served the same or the following day.


For the Soaked Fruit 

  • 1 cup Medjool dates
  • 1.5 cups dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, cherries, apricots)
  • ½ cup of port wine or orange juice 
  • ¼ cup maple syrup 
  • ½ tsp allspice 


For the Pudding

  • 1 ¼ cup Medjool dates, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cups mashed (cooked) sweet potato
  • 2 1/4 cups almond meal
  • 1.5  tablespoons coconut flour 
  • 1.5 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons allspice powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon cacao powder
  • Zest from ½ an orange + more to decorate
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (to grease the pan)


For the Custard

  • 250 ml almond milk (or any milk)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons honey or maple syrup  
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • Pinch of sea salt



For the Soaked Fruit 

  1. Let the dates soak in boiling water for 15 minutes
  2. Strain and purée the dates in a blender with the allspice 
  3. Place the port (or orange juice) in a sealed container with the puréed dates and the rest of the dried fruit.
  4. The fruit must soak for at least 24 hours but can soak for up to a month. If soaking for a more extended period, shake the container every couple of days and store it in a cool, dry place. 


For the Pudding 

The pudding should be served either that day or the following day after cooking.

  1. Soak the dates in boiling water for 15 minutes with the baking soda and then purée them in a blender
  2. Separate the eggs, and whisk the four egg whites with a hand mixer until they fluff up 
  3. Add the puréed dates and egg yolks to the mixture and continue to whisk for 60 seconds
  4. Add in the sweet potato purée and orange zest and whisk until smooth
  5. In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the dry ingredients with a fork
  6. Add in the dry ingredients mixture to the wet and whisk briefly until all combined
  7. Add in the soaked fruit and fold through using a spatula
  8. Grease a pudding bowl with coconut oil and fill the mixture, and smooth the top using a spatula
  9. Place the bowl in a saucepan, making sure that you can cover at least ¾ of the bowl with water
  10. Bring the water to a boil and cook the pudding for 6.5 hours, topping up the water regularly (since the water will evaporate) 
  11. Remove the pudding bowl from the saucepan and let cool for 20 minutes
  12. Run a knife around the pudding, and then invert the pudding onto a plate
  13. Pour the custard over the pudding before serving and decorate with fresh orange zest


For the Custard

  1. Whisk the milk and scraped vanilla bean in a saucepan over low heat until it gets near boiling 
  2. Using an electric whisk, mix in the egg yolks, sweetener of choice, and tapioca flour on medium until the mixture becomes thick (about 5 minutes)
  3. While the whisk is running, pour in the very hot milk and keep whisking until the custard forms and is smooth


Assemble and Decorate

The Christmas pudding can be made the day prior or ideally served fresh the same day. Serve by pouring the custard over the cake and decorating with anything you like; some ideas include fresh orange zest, some cacao nibs, a few cherries, or some shredded coconut!


A Final Note

It’s important to find balance in life and not worry too much about diet. And yet, understand that there are many ways to modify and upgrade foods to fit your overall goals. Old school holiday favorite recipes have come a long way, and there are so many healthier alternatives today. This recipe is a great example of enjoying an old favorite without totally abandoning your food ethos!

One of the easiest ways to stay on track during the holidays is to bring your own food to share. The sharing spirit of the holidays may even inspire family members who are on a different life path by seeing how delicious healthy alternatives can be.